Igudesman and Joo: Scary Concert at Heinz Hall

Saturday evening we were treated by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to a highly entertaining concert led by violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-ki Joo. A Scary Halloween it was, with music ranging from Dance Macabre by Saint-Saens to the hilarious Decomposing Composers by Michael Palin.

It’s without a doubt that they are funny and engaging, yet what really intrigues me is how talented they are in their own right as musicians. Several solo performances by each were mesmerizing and brilliant in the showcase of their abilities. I especially liked Tango del Diablo by Igudesman and Celebration Polka by Joo, both pieces they composed are extremely difficult to perform but perform they did to great effect!

The musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra were dressed in outfits as well, I noted: Horse Head, Hillbilly, The Incredibles, Pocahontas, A Big Chicken, Race Car Driver, Skeleton with face, half Skeleton, Pirate, Taco Bell Taco, Black Cat, Motorcycle Cop, Mummy, Harpo Marx, Dracula, Annie Oakley, Bride of Frankenstein, Stay Puff Marshmallow Man, Howard Stern, Ghost, Toy Soldier, Impaled bloody Horn Player and various other assorted ghouls and gargoyles.

One of the things they do best are pieces where they mix and match classical music selections with their own flair. At first they took a popular ringtone and mixed it into many selections from composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and Ravel, while pushing each other off the conductor’s podium in order to serve up their own particular flavor of hybrid composition.

At intermission they invited members of the audience who were dressed in Halloween costumes to come up on stage for an impromptu judging of the best costume. The audience applauded most for the declared winners: Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.

The Pittsburgh Symphony also took part in the hi-jinks and festivities throughout the evening. Kelsey Blumenthal dressed as a skeleton danced and bowed with Igudesman at the same time, very impressive. At the end many of the costumed members of the orchestra were up from their seats dancing in ho-down style in the Zorba the Greek final selection.

I’ve seen this talented duo before, and am glad I caught their Halloween special, and such a treat it was done here in Pittsburgh, thanks! I’ll be looking for them to return to Heinz Hall again. And I have to say — undoubtedly this is the best Halloween party I’ve ever attended.

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